Choral Society Brings World Class Talent to Community

Henley Choral Society is bringing what it describes as ‘national and international’ musical talent to a performance of Mendelssohn Elijah at 7.30pm on Saturday 2 April, The Main Chapel, The Oratory School, near Woodley.

Chair of Henley Choral Society Tim Wilson explains: “We’ve put together the Henley Sinfonia especially for this concert. An orchestra of professional musicians, including players from the major London chamber and symphony orchestras, members of the Henley Sinfonia have toured across the world, playing, and recording with some of the world’s leading musicians and composers.’ He continues: ‘They have performed at venues around the UK including London’s Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Kings Place and Cadogan Hall, and have also recorded many successful and prize-winning film soundtracks. We can’t wait to hear musicians of this quality do justice to Mendelsohn’s thrilling and dramatic masterpiece.”

The performance will be conductor Peter Asprey’s farewell concert with Henley Choral Society.  Peter Asprey explains: “I am sad to leave but we really want to ensure this performance is an occasion not to be missed. The choral society is pulling out all the stops in bringing musicians and soloists who would normally be heard in some of the most prestigious concert halls and opera houses in the world right to the doorstep of the local community.”

Described by The Stage as ’laser-like in focus and attack’ and by the Evening Standard as: ‘superb…on top of the music and in the drama’, soprano Phillipa Boyle was winner of the Emmy Destinn Awards and semi-finalist in the  Kathleen Ferrier Awards, having trained at il Conservatorio Santa Cecilia in Rome with Elvira Spica de Masi and David Ciavarella, and attended the Opera Studio at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, where she studied bel canto with Renata Scotto. She has performed as a soloist under conductors Ivor Bolton, John Rutter, and Sir David Willcocks, and at the Glyndebourne Festival, Wexford Festival, Festival d’Art Lyrique d’Aix en Provence, and the Rome International Baroque Festival.

Edward Hughes, tenor, was commended by Berliner Zeitung as ‘ a formidable tenor whose voice soared over the orchestra.’  Edward has worked with many of the country’s top opera companies including the Royal Opera House, ENO, Opera North, and Glyndebourne and as a soloist in France, Germany, Holland, and Asia. Finalist at the Wagner Society Singing Competition, Edward is a member of the critically acclaimed Royal Hospital Chelsea Chapel Choir and has performed with ensembles including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Royal Choral Society and at the Berlin Philharmonie.

Northumbrian bass-baritone Michael Ronan is currently a member of Royal Academy Opera. In competition has been awarded the Joan Chissell Schumann Lieder Prize, and the Blyth-Buesst Opera Prize  and is the recipient of the Sainsbury Award. Recent roles include Don Inigo Gomez in L’Heure Espagnole (Ravel), Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte (Mozart), and Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Britten) for Royal Academy Opera, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra, and John Proctor in The Crucible (Robert Ward) at OPERNFEST, Berlin.

Concert highlights include Christus in Bach’s Matthäus-Passion under the baton of Trevor Pinnock, and a recital of Clara Schumann lieder at Wigmore Hall; he joins the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus in 2022.

​ An Anglo-Swedish Society scholar, mezzo-alto Mae Heydorn studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Graduating with distinction in 2012 she made her operatic debut that year with Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Recent engagements with the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company and her debut with Longborough Festival Opera earned her critical acclaim and 5-star reviews in the Daily Mail. ‘…gorgeously sung’ commented The Guardian while Opera Magazine said: ‘Mae Heydorn shone in the role, her voice creamy and clearly focussed, and her diction impeccable.’ Mae is the winner of the Swedish Wagner Society’s Award, the London Wagner Society’s Audience Prize, President’s Prize, and 1st Prize winner in the Schubert Society’s Lied Duo Competition

Tim Wilson continues: “This promises to be a very special performance. Music lovers also have the unique  opportunity to sponsor this performance of Elijah and to show their support for the professional musicians who have experienced such difficulties during the pandemic. See www.henleychoralsociety.org.uk for all details and join us for a thrilling return to live performance.”

Tickets £25 (under 18s £5) coach tickets from Henley-on-Thames train station and return £10. Coaches available from Henley-on-Thames station car park to the venue and return. All information and ticket sales online: www.henleychoralsociety.org.uk

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